Kawasaki Vulcan 500 LTD Review

The Kawasaki Vulcan 500 LTD is one beginner motorcycle that can hang with the big boys. It's rugged styling is outfitted with a decent amount of chrome bits to accent its already classic look.

Warm Blooded Fun

The Vulcan 500 is powered is powered by a parallel twin, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled engine with a 498cc displacement. It is based on the ever popular and bulletproof Kawasaki Ninja 500 engine, so you know that the power delivery is going to be very new-rider friendly. It's also a very warm-blooded motorcycle, so even on those cold mornings you probably won't be reaching for the choke nearly as much as you would if you were riding a Suzuki GS500.


Most smaller motorcycles really outshine the competition when taken to the twisties and this little Vulcan is no exception. The long wheelbase of this motorcycle makes it handle really well at highway speeds, although it may be a little tight when performing slow speed maneuvers in a parking lot. The stock seat is actually fairly comfortable on this bike, but if you are going to be doing anything longer than 6 hours you may want to invest in a corbin after market seat.

The passengers seat is also much more comfortable than your average sport bikes, keep in mind if you are going to be riding 2 up a lot, you will notice a definite decrease in power on hills and turns. It's not completely devastating, but noticeable enough to mention.

Aftermarket shiny bits

2007-kawasaki-vulcan-500.jpgBecause this motorcycle is a member of the prestigious Vulcan family, there are quite a few after market parts to add more style and power to it. Chrome engine guards and larger windshields are just a couple things you can do to class it up.

Side saddles or added luggage are a must have that allow you to pick up things at the grocery store after a nice relaxing ride in the twisties . When all things are considered this motorcycle may not look like a beginner bike, but it's much easier to handle than some 120hp, 800lb hog.


This would be a great first motorcycle, especially if you are into cruisers. It rides well on the freeway, and it handles around town like a dream. The Vulcan 500 was discontinued in 2009 after a 20 year production run, so you could pick up one of these bikes for relatively cheap.


  • Warm blooded :)
  • Powerful enough for freeway cruising
  • Doesn't look like a 500cc motorcycle (looks much more powerful!)


  • Riding 2-up can slow down the bike quite a bit


  • MSRP: $4,999
  • Engine Type: 4-Stroke, Liquid-Cooled, DOHC, 4 Valve Cylinder Head, Parallel Twin
  • Displacement: 498 cc
  • Bore & Stroke: 74.0 x 58.0 mm
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 4.0 gal.
  • Seat Height: 28.1 in.
  • Dry Weight: 439 lb.


do you think that the honda shadow vlx would be a very good beginner bike. it is not that much bigger than the vulcan is it?

I've been looking at buying my first motorcycle and was wondering the same thing. Vulcans are sparse in Los Angeles so I've kinda been looking elsewhere. There seems to be more VLXs out there. Anyone have an opinion? Is the VLX a big difference from the Vulcan?

the honda shadow vlx is a great learner bike, light and agile for a cruiser, less performance than the vulcan and the 4 speed transmission equals very high revs on the highway.

do you think that the vulcan 500 or the ninja 500 or the gs500 would be the best bike? I like sportbikes and cruisers a lot. cruisers look more comfortable, but sportbikes look like more fun. Also do you think that the Honda shadow vlx would be a good first bike or not, because it is too big. Thanx.

I have been riding for a few years now (10 years) but 2 years ago decided on a 500 Vulcan. I did not think I really needed to increase in power from my 500 Shadow but was looking for a newer bike. Upgraded from the Shadow 500 (1986) to the Vulcan 500 (2005). The balance of it is a little different, just like any other change in bike. Easy to adjust to, low seat, very comfortable ride. I took it to Port Dover this year (4 hour ride) and was very comfortable and was able to keep up with my biking buddies who were riding 750 Shadows and Harley 800. Trying to find a 500 Vulcan took some time as the dealerships tend not to carry too many. Ended up going to Rockland Motorsports to get mine. Well worth the 3 hour ride there! Service was great, thanks Yannick.

Stay away from the GS500f. You really don't get much for your money and the bike is SLOW. I put 32,000 miles on one I know what I'm talking about. The other two Kawasaki's are a good choice. Can't comment on the Shadow.

I'm a burly rugby player - 6'0" 275lbs. From what I understand a 250cc would really struggle to get up to freeway speeds if I was the rider, correct? I was looking at the Vulcan as a possible alternative, do you know any other bigger guys and what they started out on/what they ride?

I think the vulcan would suit you really well, 500cc's is MORE than enough to get to freeway speeds pretty fast. If you wanted something more sportbike oriented take a look at the Ninja 500. The vulcan engine is based around the Ninja's engine so they are really similar power wise, although I really like the look of this vulcan! If I were going to get a cruiser/standard bike, it would probably be this one.


How comfortable are sport bikes for long distances? I like the look of both, but it looks like a cruiser would better be able to accomidate longer legs and more relaxed riding.

Also - since the Ninja 250 is such a fast bike would it be ok for a guy my size, or would it still struggle?

I know that the vulcan has some aftermarket pegs you can install that will give you quite a bit more leg room if you desire it. Basically I think any of the bikes would have enough power, but if I were you I would maybe go with a 500cc instead of the ninja 250. That being said I know of people about your height/weight that have 250's and are pretty happy with them.

When it comes to riding position the only thing I can recommend is sitting on both motorcycles. Some people just love the feeling of being scrunched up on a sports bike (like me!), but other people can stand it and are only comfortable when they are stretched out in a cruiser (I would hate that!). It really just comes down to personal preference.

Most sportsbikes are not going to be comfortable riding 8+ hours on them unless they are specifically designed for that like the motorcycles in the sports-touring category. The honda VFR can go for hours and hours and you will be comfortable the whole time, but I wouldn't say the same for a CBR 600RR, or Yamaha R6. Even my bike, a 2001 kawasaki zx6r, which is known for being very comfortable for a sportsbike becomes somewhat cramped if I am on it all day (and i'm 5'11"). It's not super horible, but sometimes my knees will start to hurt and I'll have to take a break and walk around.

So like I said, just sit on both the bikes and see which one 'speaks' to you. :)


I haven't ridden a motorcycle in over 35 years. My 19 year old son got his license a couple weeks ago, and bought himself a Vulcan 500. I'm going to get my license next week so I can borrow his bike, ride it around without telling him, and leave the gas tank empty. ;)

But I sat on it today, and it seems really small.

The seat is so close to the pegs that my legs were bent under me to the point where my calves were stretched tight when my heels were on the pegs. Lifting my feet to shift and stay off the brake gave me shin-cramps.

I'm about 2" taller, and 100# wider than my son.

Any recommendations for my 1st bike (since I"m too big to ride his)?


I know my son is 6'4 and weight a little more than you, and Loves his Vulcan 500. SO much he talked me into getting one, and I already own a H-D Heritage Soft tail Classic. Great ride and not as heavy. I'll keep the big cruise for long hauls. Then again, maybe not. It does keep up with my friends other HOG's on the road.

Knee's in the wind

i am 6 foot 200lbs, and i don't have that much riding expirience. I have ridden a friends dirtbike out in the country, but thats it. What do you think the best bike for me would be. I will be doing 70% city and 30% highway. I like all kinds of bikes. I think that the buell blast would be good, but i don't trust the reliability as much as Kawasaki, Honda, etc.

If you want sportbike, look at a Ex250 or Ex500r by kawasaki if you want more dual sport off-road look at a KRL650-ish a slightly larger bike but for the style the 650 should fit you just fine.

~Not your average hairless monkey

the buell blast is an american made bike!!!!!!! very reliable as is harley. harley is buells parent company

how many ccs is the suzuki s40 and s50?

The 40 in S40 refers to the displacement in cubic inches. So, in cubic centimeters that comes out to about 655. I went here http://www.easysurf.cc/metric/cnver6.htm#ic2 to do the conversion.

~He who laughs last didn't get the joke...

He who laughs last didn't get the joke...

I'm a woman, 5'5" and 121 lbs., just taking my first steps into the world of motorcycles. Any suggestions on a good bike for someone without a lot of upper-arm strength? I was looking at the Hyosung GT250 but this one caught my eye -- I prefer a more classic look over sporty. However, I want one that looks like a motorcycle, and not a bike with an engine!

Also, I hear dual-performance bikes are good for beginners -- is this true?


The vulcan 500 is a great bike to start with, and You don't really need a whole lot of upper-arm strength when riding, I mostly use the muscles in my back when on the bike, and my legs when I'm at a standstill. You shouldn't have a death grip on the handle bars or try to muscle the bike around with your arms, that will lead to sloppy/dangerous riding.

Dual sport bikes are pretty good starter bikes, but most of them are pretty tall. I would sit on a couple of bikes before you buy any and find out which ones feels best for you.

~Best Beginner Motorcycles Admin

I have heard the Vulcan 500 will lose some power with 2 riders. I'm wondering how drastically it would be deminished with 1 rider 5'6" 170 and 1 rider 5'8" 190. My husband and I want a bike for beginners (complete novices) but one we will both be able to ride and be able to take on the highways (60 mph) and possibly some freeway driving (75mph). We also want something that wont clear our our pocketbooks and will last us several years.

I have heard the Vulcan 500 will lose some power with 2 riders. I'm wondering how drastically it would be deminished with 1 rider 5'6" 170 and 1 rider 5'8" 190. My husband and I want a bike for beginners (complete novices) but one we will both be able to ride and be able to take on the highways (60 mph) and possibly some freeway driving (75mph). We also want something that wont clear out our pocketbooks and will last us several years.

Hi Mr. Admin. I had a quick question.

I have never ridden a motorcycle before (only been a passenger) and am am thinking of getting either a Vulcan 500 or a Yamaha VStar 650 as my first bike. I was leaning towards the Vulcan 500 since it is a bit lighter than the Yamaha 650. (I'm 5' 9" and 160 lbs) However, a couple of articles I read on the internet say that because of ts slightly longer base, the Vulcan 500 is more difficult to handle at slow speeds compared to other midsized bikes. A friend of mine told me the same thing. Do you have any feedack? Would love to hear.

Thanks for all your great work man!


I just looked up the specs online and they come out to:

Vulcan 500

Length = 91.3 in.
Wheel Base = 62.8 in.

Yamaha V-star Classic 650

Length = 96.5 inches.
Wheel base = 64 in

It looks to me like the Vulcan is actually shorter than the vstar. I'm not quite sure who is telling you that it is longer, but they definitely need to check their facts. When it comes down to it, they are both very capable bikes, but I personally would lean towards the vulcan 500 since it is about 60 pounds lighter coming in at 439 lbs while the v-star comes in at 505 lbs. Also the vulcan will be more forgiving since it has a less powerful (but still very capable) engine compared to the yamaha. Hope that helps!


~Best Beginner Motorcycles Admin

Have been riding 30 + on all types of bikes. Safety is # 1 for beginner rider ! Fact 1 : More Power can present more trouble for the beginner, as cracking throttle and hand grip not truly established and now you are riding with left hand near your shoulders while griping rt. handlebar and adding more juice to engine . Fact 2 : Heavy bike and beginner rider hits front brake quick (full press. on front brake lever) handle bars in slight turn position and bars instantly go full direction of turn while rider slides forward on seat and rider is off balance, end result if a heavy bike, she will lay over onto pavement due to not being able to hold weight of bike while rider is off balance. Fact 3: Dealers in some cases will sell you what you think your need might be, which can result in rider feeling uncomfortable on a larger bike . Fact 4: Training, I don't sell bikes yet have spent many hours training my wife since she choose to learn to ride after 50. Choose a closed course and practice manuvers on your new bike, find a local Safety Course as in MSF, or a State program. Fact 5 : Bike Choice for Beginner would have to be Vulcan en500, lighter, 6speed, resale value appears better on cycle trader, when you are ready to move up. SAFE RIDING

I really could use some advice; please bear with me. I am a very small, petite older woman. I am 5'1" and weigh 95 lbs. I rode a Vino 125cc Scooter for over a year. I loved it but hubby could not get his over 45mph because of his weight. Last year he upgraded to a Honda Shadow 750. Obviously I couldn't ride with him if I was on a scooter. I took the Motorcycle Safety Course on a Honda Rebel 250. Had problems completing the figure 8 but with some extra afterhour work on hubby's 750 I passed the course. We looked for me a 250 and there were NONE at all to be found in our area.

We finally found a new 2009 Vulcan 500. We bought it for me. I found the center of gravity to be too high and I had balance problems from day one with the bike. Once going I was fine but the u-turn around the median in front of the house scared me. I had trouble with slow speed turns because the balance on the bike felt weird. And like you described in fact two the handlebars would go full direction and I would be off balance resulting in laying the bike over (although it wasn't because of me hitting the brake). I only did that 2-3 times but it was enough to make me fear the weight of the bike. I could ride his 750 easier than I could ride my 500.

In February a driver ran a stop sign and pulled out in front of my husband resulting in his bike being totalled. He began to drive my Vulcan. He immediately began to complain about the balance of the bike and the center of gravity being so much different than his Shadow had been. We found me a used Virago 250cc. Although the weight is much better, after riding the 500 I am not at all happy with the 250.

Hubby couldn't stand the Vulcan and just bought himself a V-Star 950. I looked at the V-Star 650 Classic but am fearful of the weight after the Vulcan. The dealer showed me a V-Star 650 Custom which is smaller and a little lighter and he assures me is the right bike for me. Hubby agrees with him because of the balance of the Vulcan vs. other bikes and the fact that I could drive his Honda 750. I am afraid of making another costly mistake. My options are: 1) keep the Virago and limit interstate use. Hubby will have to hang back on any trips so I can keep up. 2) go back to the Vulcan instead of selling it; although I am somewhat afraid of it. 3) buy the V-Star 650 and hope the third time is a charm.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Comparing the 650 to the 500, I noticed the 650 had two valves per cylinder, while the 500 had four. I remember when car engines became more available in the four valve per cylinder design, and you could get a lot more power out of a smaller engine that way. I'm thinking the 500 might be a more advanced engine that could keep up with the 650. --lbm

Sumanitu taka owaci

I noticed that there are no comments or reviews about the Suzuki S40/LS650 Savage?

Any reviews or feedback on the Suzuki Boulevard s 50? I hear the seat is terrible, cold starts, spits and clunks as well as cuts out. I was thinking of getting this bike, but now am concerned.
I am also 5'1" and was checking out the vulcan 500, shadow vlx 600..any suggestions?

I'm new to riding on the street, I rode dirt bikes most of my life as a kid and young adult. I went looking one day with my wife and all that was affordable were 250's, I'm 6'-2 and 200lbs, I was wanting to have a bike I could take my wife on rides with and felt a 250 was just too small for both of us. There was a used 2002 Vulcan on the lot and it was for a decent price, I wanted to pay cash and own a good bike. It had different pipes on it than the factory ones and when they fired it up, I couldn't tell that it was a 500 from the sound, I rode it around the lot a couple of times and made them an offer, it was mine just 45 min. later, rode it home. As a new rider I have found that this was the bike for me, very easy to ride, handles very well and with alot of lone rides, I have learned how to handle many different situations. It does take some of the power away with 2 people though but if you know this and adjust your riding you can think ahead and no one will know the difference, it still has plenty of power. There is only one thing I don't like about the parallel engine, it looks wimpy compared to the Vee Twin. I wish their were body parts made to hide some of the blank areas of the engine or lack there of. I will be moving up to bigger bike but only after I have mastered this one. The Vulcan 500 is a great starter.

Does anyone have any experience with Honda Shadow VLX bikes? The are 583cc. I am 6' 3" and prefer a cruiser style bike and this forum recommends the smaller cruiser bikes like the Vulcan 500. So, does anyone have any experience with a Shadow VLX? I just wanted something else to compare the Vulcan 500 to. Thank you.

I've been riding off and on all my life. About a month ago I purchased an 2002 Shadow VLX (extreme low miles) Love the looks and feel of the bike. It handles very well at low and highway speeds. To me, if this bike had a 5 speed it would be the perfect all around mid-size cruiser for both beginner and experienced rider. As an experienced rider I say the 4 speed transmission SUCKS and because of the gear spacing would not recommend for it a beginner. First gear is way too high!! I went to a smaller front sprocket and that helped a lot. So far, even after the sprocket change it's running about 65 MPG. For myself I'd make three changes in this bike, a 5 speed tranny, a bit larger gas tank, and a better seat for the long runs. Honda has a good thing going in the Shadow VLX, they just need to make some user friendly changes in it. Compairing the Vulcan 500 and the Shadow VLX. The Vulcan 500 is the better choice. I'll hang on to the Shadow VLX for a while but I see a Suzuki SV650 in my stable in the very near future.

I am considering a new bike, inexpensive enough to pay cash for. I am looking at the suzuki boulivard s40 or the kawasaki vulcan 500. I have heard that the smaller vulcan is actually faster and has more power due to the newer technology in the parallel V-twin. The Suzuki is about a grand cheaper for 650cc's...I have seen the boulivard in person and liked the styling etc. the question I have, is that I would be riding two up on many occasions. I am not concerned about interstate driving, but more interested in the performance for two lane blacktop. We have a cabin in lower Missouri, and I would be riding in the 50-60 mph range on curvy, hilly, terrain. Which of the two will be better able to maintain those speads comfortably with two short but heavy riders, 425-450lbs total weight. I know a bigger bike would be better, but unfortunately the budget won't allow. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

So which one did you decide on? After shortlisting .. I too have almost narrowed down to these two :-)

Would it be possible to get a Yamaha V-Star 650 Custom/Classic review on here for beginners who are considering this bike as their starter bike? I have noticed there are bikes in the 650cc range in the sport bike category listed and wanted to see how this bike held up compared to the other cruisers in this class. Thanks for all your advice!

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Someone asked about the VLX. I did some research on that and nearly everyone that had some experience was negative about it citing the 4-speed transmission. The salespeople echoed what I read on the web is that people aren't satisfied for very long and don't keep them very long either. They may be a good candidate to pick up as used.

My search has resulted in me liking the new Kawasaki Versys. It's very light, has an upright, comfortable riding position and a tractable engine, plus a minimal fairing to keep the wind levels down. Also, I like the fact that it's fuel injected and has the exhaust routed underneath the engine - less likely to get burns from it. Other reviews cite the Suzuki V Strom 650 as a good bike. It has the same engine as the SV650 recommended on this site, but has a more upright riding position plus a small fairing. It's a little heavier than the Versys, though. I don't find it very attractive but, again, that's in the eye of the beholder.

I have read reviews regarding these two bikes. My understanding is that the custom is rated a little better. Also, I have read the reviews on the Kawasaki Vulcan 500 ltd. The Kawasaki Vulcan was better in performance on the highway with more power than the custom and classic of Yamaha. I cannot remember the name of the site, but what I did was google search reviews on the bike Make and Model and got my information that way! Hope this helps you on your decision!

Which is better for a total beginner? I've done the MSF course and I'm ready to start learning to ride on something non-threatening. A friend at work is selling a Ninja 650 and I tried it, almost immediately I dropped it and it scared me to death. I definitely feel more comfortable on a cruiser but don't want anything too heavy or difficult to manage or something that won't have enough oomph for me in a few months. I want to use this mainly for weekend jaunts, which in Southern CA involves freeway riding.

I sat on an S40 on the weekend and really felt comfortable on it but the reviews haven't been that great so I'm thinking probably the Vulcan would be a better choice. I'm just afraid that I'll not be able to handle it after my experience with the Ninja.

I'm 5'8" and 150 lbs, very physically fit and pretty strong so don't know why I'm such a wuss about motorcycles!

Is a Ninja 500 out of your range?

~Not your average hairless monkey

~Not your average hairless monkey

Even though I'm tall, I think the lower center of gravity will help me control the bike better and give me a better sense of security. Dropping the 650 really shook me up. When I sit on a sport bike I actually feel very nervous, it's probably just psychological but I definitely feel more relaxed on a cruiser.

The nice thing about the S40 is it's weight, as a beginner that's a huge plus. But I worry that after a few months that will be more of a negative (for freeway riding) and I also don't want to be on a bike that vibrates and maxes out at 65 mph. For right now that won't be an issue, but it might become one in a few months time.

I sat on a Vulcan 900 and a Honda Shadow 750 yesterday, and they seemed very big and heavy to me. The S40 did not.

Apparently the Vulcan 500 2008 model cannot be sold in CA because it doesn't meet the emissions requirements, so I haven't been able to sit on one at a dealer and see how that feels. There aren't a lot of used ones for sale either.

You worry way to much about your bike and not enough about your skills. The bike is just the bike, your skills are you. Take that for what its worth. And yes, get what you want because you will be riding it for a while.

~Not your average hairless monkey

~Not your average hairless monkey

The S40 will run well past 80mph - and rather quickly. The weight of this bike is a real plus at low speeds and around-town, and it has more than ample torque for great launches. On the hightway, it can be blown around by large vehicles more than the heavy-weight cruisers, but you will have no trouble keeping up with traffic at any legal speed. Two-up riding is tight, but the power is still adequate, and the fuel economy is very good. The tank is rather small, though, and your range will be less than 150 miles on average. Also, the OEM seat is terrible so a gel pad or air-hawk pad would be a good idea. If you don't mind doing some of your own customizing, the S40 beats the V-Star 650 and VLX in performance. You will not likely need more power after riding one for two months (like you may with some of the others in this size range).

Well, I have read reviews (independent) with regards to the Suzuki s40, Yamaha 650 Custom and Classic, as well as the Kawaski Vulcan 500. My understanding on all of the articles and reviews I have read rate the S40 at the bottom of this group which is the main reason I did not buy one. As far as I know with regards to everything I've read, the Vulcan 500 tops the list followed by the Yamaha 650 Custom. As far as backfiring goes, the engine on the S40 is a single cylinder engine. Backfiring is common with this bike primarily because of the engine design.

Have also been looking at the Vulcan 500 and S40, but have heard the S40 has had a backfire
problem. I like the size and feel and look of the S40 but am hesitant to purchase it.

Have you purchased a bike, and if so which one and how do you like it?

Thanks for any help,

Hey all. I'm so glad I found this site! My question is, how does the Vulcan 500 compare to other starter bikes as far as repairs go? I hear a lot about how probable it is that I will drop my first bike a few times. Would the Vulcan be fairly durable to a drop or two? Would reparing it (only if I had to) break the bank? Thanks!

Most motorcycle drops by beginners are low speed, or standstill drops. That means that usually your fairing will get scratched and you might break a clutch or break lever. If you are going faster you might damage the crankcase, but you would have to be going over 15mph for that to begin to be an issue. Basically low speed drops are purely asthetic in nature and the bike is very ridable after you pick it up off the ground. The Vulcan might fair a little better than say the ninja 250 just because the vulcan is a naked bike with no plastic fairings to scratch up like the ninja.

~Best Beginner Motorcycles Admin

Hi Ben,

I'm looking to purchase my first bike. I'm interested in a cruiser. I completely understand and support the need for less power and less weight. I'm 6' 3" with a 36" inseam. I've sat on a Vulcan 500 and if I turn the handlebars to the left or right I eventually have to pull my knee out so I can continue to turn the handlebars. This can't be safe can it? I'd appreciate your thoughts on 1. if it's not uncommon for people to pull their knee out to make clearance for turning the handlebars, 2. since you have recommended the Vulcan 500 to other tall riders, do you have a suggestion on how to make a Vulcan 500 fit my height (I've looked at aftermarket forward controls, etc.... way too much to spend for a starter bike), 3. if it is dangerous to pull your knee out then would you suggest that I step up in size in small increments until I find something where I don't have to pull my knee out, ie. 650 or 750? This has been a very frustrating experience trying to fit on the "starter cruiser" bike you know you should have and not being able to. Thank you.

If there are other tall riders out there, I'd really appreciate hearing how you overcame your size to get on a starter cruiser bike.

I checked out some places to get forward controls and it looks like you are right, they are pretty expensive. Most of them start at 500 and can go as high as 700 depending on which brand.



I'm wondering how much you have to turn your handlebars before you need to pull your knee out of the way. If it doesn't happen until right before you lock out the bars then it really shouldn't be an issue. The only time I turn my handle bars a lot is when I'm doing slow speed manuevers, and the ONLY time I lock them out is when i'm pulling a U-turn, and even then I usually have a foot down just in case I don't make it.

Generally when you ride you turn the handle bars very little, and the higher speed you go the more it is just leaning and very little turning (in fact you start to counter-steer which they teach you in your MSF course).

If you really don't want a 500, the most I would suggest would be the Vulcan 900. It doesn't have as much horspower as an inline 4 600cc bike, but it has gobs of torque which can get you into trouble if you aren't careful. Plus it weighs a full 100 lbs more than the vulcan 500, and I find that most new riders drop their bike at least once, usually 2-5 times (I dropped my first bike 3 or 4 times).

Kawasaki Vulcan 900:
dry weight: 557.9 lbs. ,
Horsepower: 53.6 bhp @ 6000 rpm

Kawasaki Vulcan 500:
Dry Weight: 439.0 pounds
Horsepower: 46bph

Also the vulcan 900 is about $2000 more than the vulcan 500. If your main reason for getting the 900 is comfort then maybe consider just shelling out the 600 bucks for forward controls for the vulcan 500, because $600 is much less than $2000.

Let us know what you decide!

~Best Beginner Motorcycles Admin

Hello, I have a 2007 Vulcan 500, I have been looking everywhere for aftermarket pipes... Does anyone have any info on where to find these? Thanks

try www.scootworks.com... they sell a bunch of stuff for the vulcan 500

Vulcan Bob

Vulcan Bob

Hi Ben,

You run a great site, thanks for all of the work you do to keep it going!

I took the MSF course back in June 2007; it was my first real experince on a bike and I haven't been on one since. I was looking to get into riding a bit this year and was most interested in the honda nighthawk. However after visiting some dealerships, I was surprised to find that I really liked the cruiser feel (While I'm only 5'10", I'm tall enough where I don't feel stretched out - I wouldn't like that). I had gone to a dealer a few weeks back where the salersperson was trying to push me toward an Intruder 800 or Triumph Legend 900 (more of a standard). Both were comfortable but felt a bit too bulky for me as a beginner. Your site started my research which turned me onto the Vulcan 500. Last weekend I went to a dealer that had one for sale and got the feel for one, and while it's still much bigger than the 125 I rode in the MSF course, it feels pretty manageable. If the weather holds out here on Long Island today, I'll be picking it up (with my friend driving it back home).

Thanks again for the great site, I'll keep you apprised of my progress on this thing!


Hey Joe,

Glad this site helped you out :) I'm a big fan of the Vulcan 500, I think it is one of the best looking bikes out there. It really has that 'big cruiser' look without being too much weight or too much power. Let us know when you pick it up, and be sure to take some pics and post them in the forum!

~Best Beginner Motorcycles Admin

hey Ben, im 18 and never rode a bike before i know how to drive a stick in a car or truck so i think i understand the clutch work but im sure only riding will teach me im 6'2 and 180 im really serious about riding and would always wear all the gear (i think it looks better anyway) and im lookin for a bike that can last me for awhile and not have to sell and rebuy but i dont wanna kill myself on some rocket i like all types of bike i like the sport bike look ive sat on a few r6s and i like the feel of the lean what would be the best choice or choices for me thank you

This bike is quite definitely my favorite so far, as far as legitimate, possible candidates for a bike for me to buy.

The one thing I'm worried about echoes some stuff others said before - I am a tall guy (6'1" or 2", something like that) with a 34" inseam... I sat on the Vulcan, but didn't really think about turning the bar as far as it goes. Instead of going all the way back to the dealership, does anyone happen to know what height/inseam the Vulcan was really designed for, or have some kind of website that says that?

I'm really torn, since the same dealership had a (slightly) used V-star 650 with a back-rest for the passenger (I will probably be riding 2-up once in awhile), saddlebags, and forward pegs, but those may have been a little TOO forward for comfort...

It seems that there are many questions regarding tall riders on the Vulcan 500. Does anyone know of complications for riders say, 6ft and over? I myself am 6', have never ridden but am enthusiastic about learning on the 500. I plan on riding highway trips of just 100 miles, could my height create comfort complications?

Could anyone provide a concrete answer for us?

The Vulcan 500 is one of the first few bikes I sat on when I started looking (and it is still my favorite - hoping to find a used one somewhere)... I'm in the 6' range and even just sitting on the bike my knees seemed a little high, although it wasn't enough to make me NEED to invest in forward pegs/controls...

Great discussion here all, glad I found the place.

I too am torn re what to make my starter bike. I am 6'2" and 190 lbs. I'm 42 but in pretty good shape. I'm also a total noob with motorcycles. I want to be able to ride comfortably/safely on the freeway at 65-70 mph. My ego is old enough to not worrry about beating someone in a stoplight race or trying to see if I can do 100. Mostly I'm looking for a fun, economical, and cool way to make my daily commute.

I thought about a 250 since all the safety people have told me thats the way to start, but the only one I could see myself getting is the Hyosung 250GV. It's a little bigger and more powerful than its classmates. I also looked at the Buell Blast but heard a couple of horror stories re quality control issues. I really like the Vulcan 500 (it was all I could do to walk out of the store w/o buying it on the spot) but I didn't think to lock out the handlebars.

So two questions:

1. From a general perspective, are there any beginner standard or cruiser bikes that cater to tall riders?

2. At the risk of sounding like a wuss, is the Vulcan too much for a guy who has never (except around the parking lot in the MSF class) ridden a motorcycle? I have a wife and kids, lol.

My response to your questions would be: 1.) Back in the 70's and 80's the precursers to the "cruisers" were built differently with the footpegs much further back on the frame of the bike, and the seated position was quite a bit higher off the ground -more like a dirt bike. When I rode these bikes, at 6'3, I never thought about being cramped. But since all the new cruisers are now Harley look-a-likes, they are just designed differently, and in my opinion, not made with taller people in mind. But the frame size from 500cc on up doesn't change much. Mostly just the engine. I looked at all the major brands before deciding the Vulcan 500 was the most comfortable bike in this size range -for me, at least. 2.) From the way you describe yourself, I think you would be fine with the Vulcan as a starter bike. I would recommend a smaller bike for someone younger who still thinks "it could never happen to them." If you take things slow and easy while getting used to the feel and handling of the Vulcan, you should be fine. If you purchase a new Vulcan 500, Kawasaki has a recommended break in period for the first 500 miles during which time, speeds remain low and acceleration conservative. By the end of your break in, you should be quite comfortable with the bike. Let us know what you decide.

Thanks for the advice. I found a 2006 Vulcan 500 on Craigslist and took the plunge. I've only ridden it twice - both times just around my neighborhood for about 15-20 minutes but I haven't felt cramped. Its definitely way roomier than the Suzuki 250 I rode at the MSF. And I'm glad I didn't go bigger since it already felt big, powerful and heavy after getting used to the 250. I haven't had it at high speeds yet but a neighbor of mine took it to 65 mph during the test drive and said it got there easily and felt stable and solid. So far, so good.

I can't answer question one too well. I'm 5'10" with a 32" inseam and the Vulcan 500 fits me well enough. The smaller size makes it nice and manageable as a beginner. It sounds like you saw on at the dealer and liked it, you should be able to tell fairly well how it'll fit by sitting on it. Re question 2: No, the Vulcan will not be too much. I'm also a total noob and even having taken the MSF course last year (on a 125) I was a bit intimidated at first but the Vulcan is great for me as a beginner, I never feel overmatched by the bike and only now a month and several practice runs later am I getting into seeing what it can really do. It's got some nice pulling torque but it certainly won't overwhelm you if you treat it responsibly. It's a great beginners bike, I am very happy I got one.

After reading previous posts, I took the plunge and purchased a carry over 2007 model Vulcan 500. I am 45 yrs old, 6'3" and 300 pounds. It is a little cramped, but not uncomfortably so. The thing I noticed when shopping for a cruiser, was that even most of the bigger cruisers are just as cramped for a tall guy. Line up a 500 with the 800, and the difference in frame size isn't even noticable. I used to ride bigger bikes years ago, so was not expecting much from the 500 when it comes to power. But I've been very suprised and pleased with the power and acceleration from the Vulcan 500 -even at my size. Ride a 800 or larger, and you will notice quicker acceleration, but for me that little extra isn't worth the extra cost. I purchased my Vulcan 500 mostly to commute to work, and I wanted something that would get good gas mileage. After 1000 miles, my mileage has been between 50 and 60 mpg. depending on riding conditions and how hard I ride. The EN500 LTD has exceeded my expectation in almost every way.

Kawasaki Vulcan 500 - I found it a bit small. Peppy ninja 500 engine retuned.

Yamaha XV535 Virago - chopper styling, good starter but 6ft rider will eventually become cramped. I'm 6 ft I rode 7 days straight (11 hrs+ one day) and I was ok, but it does feel a bit small. That said, you can get forward controls to move the pegs and shifter etc. ahead for $350 on the net.

Yamaha V star 650 - a long bike. The longest in this class. The engine is a bigger version of the 535. More powerful, but in the end the bike is no faster, but a bit quicker off the line (so I read).

Honda VLX600 - 4 speed transmission is not so cool for hyway riding. Buzzy. But a good size.

Honda shadow 750 - They are not as hard to ride as you might think as a beginner. It was the fist cruiser I ever rode. That said, a few miles on something smaller might do you well, but if you are capable, I wouldn't shy away, especially if you are a bigger rider.

Suzuki 650 Savage (or whatever it's called now S30? - Narrow feeling bike. Never rode it but it never felt intimidating when I sat on it. Single cylinder.

If you are open to different styles some older bikes, the "standards" are great starters and good engine sizes for beginning. Cheap and often great condition still. You WANT to grow out of your first bike(s) so save a buck and get an older one to learn on.

Yamaha xs400r seca (standard), xj400 maxim (cruiser-ish) and the Honda CM400 (cruiser-ish), CB350, CB450 (standards) for instance. Strong enough to move you but not too big or quick.

A 250 will be a light bike, and easy to move around, but you may grow out of it quicker. My GF did after 1 season but she was very glad to have started on a rebel.
The 250 may be too small for a big rider to begin with. The CB250 nighthawk is a nice size, but a bigger rider might feel the bike is too small much faster.

The GS500 is said to be a great starter bike but it feels big at first. A '82-'84 seca 400 xs400r for instance is a bit smaller but still tall enough for a 6ft rider or more. Both bikes have adjustable pre-loading on the suspension which will raise/lower it a bit but also changes the ride feel.

As for the engines, V-twins are like fast tractors. Strong and they chug along nicely pulling you out of corners like a cruiser would. (Vstars, viragos, shadows all are v-twin)
The inline twins can typically rev higher, but still very smooth and predictable.
4 cylinder bikes (bandit 400 for instance) will be more high spirited. Quick to rev and quicker to get you into trouble if you are new.

A word on 2 stokes, you ight see some like the RD350 (standard) and RZ350 (sport) 2 stroke yamaha twins. While narrow bikes and very light, also very easy to get into trouble. Snappy describes them well. If you have no idea what 2 stroke bikes are like stay clear. The RZ is a race bike in a small light package.

Hi I am really new to all this motorcycle business. I just need to know could you make a page on understanding the real basics like for this Vulcan 500 LTD that i am interested in, i wanted to know what type of transmission it has whether auto or manual. It says 6 speed transmission but what does that mean? So it Manual or Auto? Can you get both? Also my another question was, Which is better 2007 or 2008 model? Since I am new, Should i get used or new?

Traditionally, most motorcycles have been designed with manual, 5 speed transmissions. In recent years, a few models have come out with 6 speed transmissions. If you have ever driven a car with a manual transmission, you will be able to understand the operation of the transmission on a bike. Bikes have a clutch lever on the left handlebar, and the shift lever is operated by the left foot. Honda made a bike in the 80's that had an automatic transmission (if I remember right it was called a Nighthawk). Some mopeds and some of the new small scooters have automatic transmissions, but I'm not aware of any "regular" motorcycles currently made that have automatic transmissions. There may be some, but I haven't run across any. The Vulcan 500 LTD does have a 6 speed transmission, which allows more efficient use of power -especially in first gear, and at highway speeds on the top end. And no, it doesn't come in an automatic model. As far as the 2007 or 2008 models, there is very little difference as far as I can tell. If you have never ridden a motorcycle before, I would suggest you start with a small, used, inexpensive bike, simply because there is a good chance you will lay it over at some point while learning to ride. At low speeds, you are unlikely to do major damage to the bike, but you will probably ding it up a little. This is really a downer if you have a brand new pristine bike. If you have more money than brains, disregard and buy whatever you want. Be careful, and good luck.

Actually the model you were thinking of is a Honda CB 750 A or CB 400 A. Both of these bikes had 2 speed transmissions without a clutch. They used the gearset and torque converter from the same era Civic car.

They were one of the very few automatic motorcycles that had a real torque converter and gearset instead of a centrifugal clutch and belt drive like a scooter.

There is a company out there making full sized bikes with automatic transmissions. Check out Ridley Motorcycles. Excellent looking bikes, but be prepared to pay as much as a Harley. Seems like a pretty niche market to me, but you really want to ride and are not able to shift for whatever reason, it's good to know there's someone out there catering to the crowd and doing a good job of it.

I am trying to decide between Suzuki s40 and the Honda Nighthawk for my first Motor cycle. I need to help to decide. I want toi be comfortable but and able to handle the bike. I am 5'7" and weigh 170lbs. Due to the gas crunch, I am willing to risk riding to a from work. The price for the new ones are very similar. Please advise on quality, comfort, agility maitenance etc.

You might want to give uncle_bernie a priv. msg. He started off with an s40 and recently upped to an s50.

In the mean time, you might find some answers here: http://www.bestbeginnermotorcycles.com/suzuki-boulevard-s40-vs-suzuki-boulevard-s50
If there's anything more important than my ego
around, I want it caught and shot now...

--- AFM #998 If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now...

hey guys im 18 and never rode a bike before i know how to drive a stick in a car or truck so i think i understand the clutch work but im sure only riding will teach me im 6'2 and 180 im really serious about riding and would always wear all the gear (i think it looks better anyway) and im lookin for a bike that can last me for awhile and not have to sell and rebuy but i dont wanna kill myself on some rocket i like all types of bike i like the sport bike look ive sat on a few r6s and i like the feel of the lean what would be the best choice or choices for me thank you

what is your opinion of a Ducati monster 696?

As a starter bike? :-\

If there's anything more important than my ego
around, I want it caught and shot now...

--- AFM #998 If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now...

do you think its to powerful? i think i might of heard ducati isnt very reliable is this true?

Does it make sense to look into early '90 Vulcan as a starter bike?



In relation to previous post - it has around 20 000 miles

Hi ive got a 91 en500. i have heard rumour that another kwak engine will fit just wondered if anyone could tell me if this is true and if so what one and what mods would be needed

many thanks gary.

just need to get my bike back on the road.

What would be the life expectancy of an engine of this type? I have been told the V-twin engines can expect atleast 100,000 miles with proper maintenance. What about the Vulcans P-twin engine??

I weigh 135 and 6 ft tall. I'm a really skinny guy. I work everyday so I guess I'm probably a little stronger than I look. I really like this bike but I am a little worried that it might be a little too heavy for me. Do you think so? Or not? And what kinda mpg does the bike get? Thanks.

I get aroung 55mpg on average with my 500. My wife can ride it with no problem, so I'm sure you wouldn't have a problem with it.

does anyone have any ideas where I can get highway bars for the 500?

I just bought an 07 Vulcan 500, what the heck is highway bars?

I rode enduro / dirt bikes when I was a teenager in Alaska. I'm short, 5 ft tall about 165 lbs. I'm not as strong as I used to be. Having said that I used to ride a 1974 kawasaki 175 (not sure the seat height or weight, so if you know please tell me).

On my old 175 I used to put my right foot on the ground and the left foot on the foot peg with no problem. I could rest the bike on my leg and hold it up. I got the bike and just starting riding it with no training except for the clutch. I had no problem with the wind at 60 mpg (wide open) or with slow speed turns or weaving or the weight, heck I used to go off road with it.

I was 17 then. Now I'm 43.

I just completed the MSF riding course on a Kawasaki 125, I test drove a Suzuki GZ250 (great bike by the way, I should have bought it).

Then I up and bought a 07 kawasaki Vulcan 500 LTD and I hate it. I got it up to 60 mpg and the wind was trying to seperate me from the bike (I had to slow down). Granted I was going down Allen Parkway in Houston but still.

I'm always thrown forward at the very last second when I'm stopping.

I tried practicing weaving in the parking lot, that wasn't happening, I had hard time controlling the weight and felt that I was getting off-balanced if that make sense.

I did a slow speed (1st gear) right hand turn into a parking spot and almost hit the truck parked on the left side. I stopped the bike however it was leaning to the right and fell over, i could not hold it up once it starting leaning over.

I tried to turn right from the right side of the lane onto my street and instead of being in the right hand lane of the street I was turning onto I wound up in the other lane (left side) with a car heading towards me (very scary).

Now my questions to you guys is:

Is it me needing to spend more practicing time on the bike, like the dealership says that won't take it back OR is this bike too big, heavy for me?

Would adding a windshield help with the wind? (I literally felt like a parachute)

Have any other short riders have similar problems with this bike or do you guys think differently?

I am not particularly short (I'm 5' 10") but have experience as a newbie to the Vulcan 500. Re your questions:

I recall seeing one review where it listed the fact the the bike was a bit longer than a standard (perhaps true of all cruisers) and that may make it a bit more difficult to control while riding slowly, especially when turning. I find this to be the case as well, I rode a small Honda 125 in the MSF course and found it much easier to control in turns than the Vulcan. However, as I get more time on my bike this is becoming easier, it's a matter of finding that balance I think.

I bought my bike came with a windshield from the dealer and I can tell you that at about 60 MPH I get a good amount of wind too however a buddy of mine drove my drive and told me that the windshield made a big difference and that there was far less wind on my bike than his larger Harley without a windshield. I am still learning on my bike and am not cruising over 45 normally so this is not much of an issue for me yet but I more feel the bike blowing around a bit due to its light weight rather than me feeling like a parachute. The windshield does make me feel very attached to the bike at higher speeds however much the bike gets blown around.

Thanks for your comments. I have been practicing and the low speed turns are getting better. doing a swerve howver is still far from perfect. The stopping is getting a little better.

I talked to one of the MSF instructors and the first thing he said was that he noticed that while I was sitting on the bike I was on my toes that that was a big no no. The bike is a little tall for me. He said I could have it lowered a bit and there's a aftermarket seat that's will be a little lower to. He also said that a windshield would help a lot to cut out some of that wind pressure.

I offered to hire him for some one on one private instruction but he said I didn't need it.

I'll keep practicing however I think I will trade down back to a 250

I will trade you even up for my '91 Honda CB250 with a windshield on it.

How short are you? I ask because my wife is 5'2 and I am thinking of the Vulcan 500 for her. We went to buy a 750 shadow yesterday and the seat height and handle bar reach was perfect for her. However, she thought the bike was too heavy and too wide. Her feet were flat on the ground but the inside of her leg was touching the pipe. Because of the above, the salesman advised that we look at the 500. Unfortunately, the dealer and two other dealers in the area are out of them. The 09s will be in in about 3-4 weeks. Your reply may steer me towards another direction rather than waiting for the 09s to arrive.

Thank you for your response.

You should be able to flat foot the ground while sitting on your bike, especially being a beginner. I'm 5'5, 150lbs, a new rider and have a 2007 Honda Rebel 250. I've put about 700 miles on it so far and took the MSF course which was very informative. I also felt the wind was a bit crazy at 50+ mph so I installed a small windsheild which helps a great deal so I would recommend you do that if you find yourself going fast often. You taking a right turn and winding up in the left oncoming lane could mean you took the turn too fast, and or didn't look to the place you want to be, rather just in front of you. Those are some beginner misakes and I've certainly made them. They can be very scary. I started slowing down more prior to turns and remember to lean and look into turns which helps.

Ultimately I think you should feel confident on the bike physically, if you feel as if you can't hold the bike up it might have to do with it being too tall for you. A shorter bike will have a lower center of gravity and will feel lighter even if its the same weight. If you stick with a bike that you feel is too heavy, you will feel intimidated by the bike and you wont develop the proper skills for fear of dropping it , etc.... I would say if you can't get over the physical intimidation this bike is giving you, you should probably start with a smaller bike like the Honda Rebel or Suzuki GZ250. Once you get better riding skills, you'll be in a better place to move up to a larger bike like the Vulcan 500 with confidence. Don't let the bike turn you off from riding when another bike can help you enjoy it! Best of luck!! Let us know what you wind up with!

I was reading your comment on your like of the GZ250 and dislike of the VN500. I have a GZ250 and love it. A great looking and good riding bike. I also think I'd like the additional power of the 500. What do you think about a trade? Get back with me on my email if you'd seriously consider it. I'm sure we could adjust with a little boot one way or the other. If you like this idea, we can trade pictures and addresses. If not, I'm sure you'll eventually come to like the 500. Good luck in any event


If you are still hanging around this site, please see the post I put up a few minutes ago regarding my experience with the Vulcan. I put a windshield on mine too but imho the center of gravity is not low enough in the Vulcan for short people. I think that is what makes it hard for us to handle. Someone is going to say I need to improve my skills and I will agree with that 100% as I've only been riding about two and a half years (with the first year being on a scooter). But my experience is the Vulcan is balanced differently and handles differently than other bikes.

I'm thinking about this for my first motorcycle...however i'm not sure if it's going to be too much for a beginner like me. My problem is however, that I want it for the highway to travel everyday....around 70 mph. Would this be a good choice?

I drive mine near everyday to work ... 3 weeks 500 miles and not yet the week end. On average our highway speeds are posted 65 ....75 if your not looking to get run down. The bike is well more then capable of maintaining that speed plus plenty left over for accelerating past the RV looking at his GPS and exit ramp at same time. The balance is very nice and the handling is great. Wind can be a problem if your smaller and very green and unsure ( ie:never been on anything open air before). Would definitely recommend working your way up the speedo to get use to the forces on your body in increments that your comfortable with. Braking is really good also, squeeze to hard -you can sing like a Jackson, but that will go for any bike. Always work your skills up, before hitting a main highway.
Other wind beating solutions are ...work out your bodies base/trunk...get that back and stomach muscles use to more then the La-z-boy.
Windshield... some help to a degree
Learn the air turbulence as best you can when riding behind certain vehicles... (small cars ...not bad, Soccer mom van .... horrid), doing that will allow you to avoid unnecessary ..... grunting.
Back roads... lol.... stay near the 45 mph areas...... or retreat to the 4 wheeled cage ( hey not everyone is made to ride)

****Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but, rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "Holy Shit....What a ride!!!"****


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